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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how is should be done........
This book has been on my reading list for a long time, but for some reason I have avoided picking it up - Perhaps because of the size (I am against Kindles in principle), or perhaps because of the stigma attached to this mammoth classic, I just assumed it was going to be beyond my mental faculties and I was certain I was never going to be able to finish it.

I...
Published on 6 Feb. 2011 by Book 1981

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I would not go for this translation
I love Tolstoy's novels - both War and Peace and Anna Karenina are the most fantastic things I have ever read.

He has the ability to take you right inside the characters very being, so you feel you know exactly what it would be like to be that character.

But I read the old Penguin edition with translation by Rosemary Edmonds. I found that translation...
Published on 3 April 2013 by John in Derbyshire


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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the moaners, 12 July 2004
By A Customer
Prompted to write this because of those strange remarks questioning the novel's quality. Don't be misled. This really is one of the greatest novels ever written. Not only does Tolstoy have a commanding grasp of his recent history, and of Napoleon's strategy, but he makes war believable from the highest to the lowest levels. But one of the main reasons it is so celebrated is in the way the characters develop. We see them grow and change, partly in response to events and experience, partly as part of simply growing up. The transformation of Andre through the book is so credibly depicted you have to keep reminding yourself this is fiction. Many things happen to him, and each twist and turn is totally convincing, and where he ends up after all this makes perfect sense. And the momentous historical events that go on are not a "backdrop", but completely interweaved in the narrative. Tolstoy was capable of pouring everything that he, a wise, observant and insightful man had seen in his life, into a book that (another "greatness" quality) had a huge historical sweep, a cast of understandable, very human characters, and profound understanding of war. Don't save it up for later.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 8 Nov. 2008
By 
Louise Grace (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I had the expectation of this novel being difficult to read, but once I'd become acquainted with the characters I just couldn't put it down. Life pulses through every scene and the historical references I found really transported me. Well worth a read - it is long, not difficult. When I'd finished I was really upset there were no more volumes to keep me in touch with the rest of the characters' lives.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep and profound classic, 1 Aug. 2005
WAR AND PEACE successfully captured life's promises, challenges, joys, triumphs, and losses in a way that no other novels has done before and after. In this novel with more characters than any other I can imagine; the main characters are Pierre Bezuhov, Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, and Natasha Rostov, who are all affected by the destabilization of the war Napoleon brought upon Russia in the early nineteenth century. It is around them that the other characters revolve. Even though the sheer size of this novel of over a million words may discourage readers to pick it up, the consuming nature of the story keeps a reader glued to the book from the opening pages. The sheer power of this romantic and adventurous story made this classic story to survive as perhaps the best of all times.

The essence of Power, which is what leads individuals to move nations is the ultimate question of War and Peace. And this individuals or great men of history, are in reality the slave of history. That underlying fact can be found in other Russian stories. UNION MOUJIK, TARAS BULBA, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT,MASTER AND MAN feature that concept. The war part of the story features remarkable military campaigns such as those by Napoleon and his Russian counterpart, Emperor Aleksandr, as they employed their different strategies in the quest for victory on the lands of Russia.

War and Peace is entertaining as well as enlightening and is considered by many to be the master of all Russian novels. Its overview of Russian life and culture involving peasants and the aristocracy gives a true to life portrayal of humanity. You can find glimpses of other Great Russian novels in this story. In short, this epic cannot be forgotten after you have read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of my life, 6 April 2015
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Very disappointed. I have been told for years that War and Peace was one of the best books ever written and that it should be top of my list of must reads. Well now I have and what a waste of time. Endless drivel mixed in with a a few pages of manners based historical romance.

An example is his multiple page description of bees without a queen bee in a hive as a metaphor for the abandoned Moscow that Napoleon enters. Moscow was abandoned by the aristocracy not the people, the serfs nor the poor. The allegedly factual descriptions of the battles are a typical aristocratic view of war. This view persisted into the First World War and the carnage that ensued with remote Generals ordering the deaths of thousand whilst basking in the glory of the dead.

Tolstoy has not written a commentary of the way of live that eventually led to the communist way of life. He does not write it as a critique but as a celebration of the behaviour and manners of the select few. In what seems like endless repetitive chapters he tries to describe the human condition but completely fails to deliver a plot that has any pace or says anything about that human condition. He does state that war is a mess and the actions of individual leaders removed from the front have little bearing on the outcome. The book is clearly a writing of its time for its audience i.e. 1865 Russian literate aristocrats. Whereas other literature of this time does cover the human experience I think Tolstoy fails.

My final criticism is of the characters - there is not a single one that I warmed to out of the hundreds that appear. They are all fickle, vain and self centered even when claiming to be acting in God's interest. Even the serfs and poor depicted are all willing to die at the drop of a hat for their superior masters.

I'm sure the literary intelligensa will tell me why I am wrong and why War and Peace is such a great book. Please don't bother.

In this edition bonus material and reference notes are added from 1941 when the Russian campaign of the Nazis in World War II was relevant and provided a backdrop for Hitler's actions against the Soviet Union to the Gates of Moscow as a comparison to Napoleon's invasion. The notes provide historical context and assessments of Tolstoy's approach. They do add something to the text but extend the books word count even further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent, 14 Feb. 2011
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I've finally finished the book everyone has heard of but very few have read.Like a great many worthwhile things in life,it rewards effort.958 closely typed pages aren't going to be read quickly but stick in there as this book truly is an epic.It tells the story of several russian families from 1804 until after the 1812 campaign through,as it says on the cover,war and peace.The story alternates between Russia's wars with napolean and the characters who participate in them and the lives of those left behind at home.
To be quite honest i sometimes found some of the peace parts a drag but Tolstoys accounts of the wars are outstanding and riveting-the notes say he served in war as a soldier in his own times and this is evident in his writing.
There are a vast range of both main and secondary characters in the book,it can be quite difficult to keep up at times,but for a novel with such an epic scope this couldnt be otherwise.All the characters are three dimensional,secondary as well as main.
I've often found in reading other 19th century novels that there seems to be a lot of "padding"-why use one word when twenty will do?I do not feel that this is something you could say with this book-its very long but it has a lot of ground to cover.
The only fault i could give to the actual book is the constant need to flick back and fore to the notes at the end;They might better have been included as footnotes though of course the edition is maybe trying to remain true to the original page numbering so this may not have been possible.The book itself kept its shape and binding well,theres not even a spine crease despite the 1 and a half months of reading!I paid £1.74 for this,i think the value for money speaks for itself.
In closing,I feel that the biggest compliment i could give this is that any novelists reading it must surely despair at what they have to aspire to.Supurb
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To Moscow and back, 12 Jan. 2011
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Why read War and Peace? Having recently read about the Russian Revolution I was looking for some additional reading to take me further in to the Russian experience. Tolstoy is of course a big name in this area, War and Peace being the most well known of all his works.

I ordered a copy from Amazon.com and at [...] I couldn`t really complain!
I had considered getting it from the local library, but then the thought of probably having to renew over and over again combined with the low purchase price made the decision easy.
On opening the packet, the first impression was of how thin the pages were, how many there were and how small the print was! I started by researching a little on the characters to make myself familiar with them to aid my reading experience.

The thing which I will take away with me from this book is the immense skill with which Tolstoy describes every character he comes across. In a few lines he gives you such a vivid and enticing portrayal of the person who easily comes alive in your mind`s eye. This novel is primarily concerned with the upper class society of early 19th Century Russia and Tolstoy himself was of the same background. Tolstoy is essentially a romantic and this is precisely where his strengths lie. I found the book for the most part a page turner. However there are times when Tolstoy freezes the action while he indulges himself in some historical commentary. I found these episodes rather dull and thankfully they are fairly few and far between. In my opinion, Tolstoy is a great novelist, but not a historian. For example, he seems to have a great loathing for Napoleon, probably because the latter took Moscow and invaded the posh Russian sensibilities. `Napoleon, that most insignificant tool of history who never anywhere, even in exile, showed human dignity`.
As the title would suggest, this book features episodes from both Russian society and the historical battles of the time and spans the period roughly from 1805 - 1812. For me, after the French had occupied Moscow, there seemed to be a lull in Tolstoy`s creative energy. If this was an intentional ploy to convey the severity of events, then this is a stroke of genius, but I cannot imagine this to be the case. There are moments of brilliance however, such as the episode in occupied and burning Moscow or the description of Andrew Bolkonski`s delirium while mortally injured, conveyed with such intensity and imagination. Who said films are better than books?
In the notes, Tolstoy addresses one of the criticisms levelled at him at the time; of not portraying the harsh and depraved existence of the lower classes and the peasants in Russia. I was glad to see this as I had the same complaint. But he only goes on to say, `I do not consider these characteristics of the period as they exist in our imagination to be correct and I did not wish to reproduce them`. Personally, I feel he may be ignoring aspects of history which he does not wish to convey - he is the great romantic writer, and I feel his merits reside firmly in the romantic genre. He says himself, `An historian and an artist describing an historic epoch have two quite different tasks before them`. What is apparent is that especially on the field of battle, and of the time, the reports and descriptions of the events are at best very sketchy and at worst fabricated to suit personal position and advantage. It is interesting how Tolstoy plants his greatest character, Pierre Bezukhov, in the field at the Battle of Borodino and the impressions he relays to us through him. This episode is of course to a large degree fabricated within Tolstoy`s mind, he has already said that the official reports from the military are untrustworthy and that the artist cannot rely on such material. This leaves the author with no option but to create much of the record himself with obvious implications. It is also worth taking note of the fact that this book was written in the mid 19th Century and therefore a certain flexibility on the part of the modern reader is desirable.
The story ends with the French being evicted from Russia and with the Russian army in hot pursuit, well they were in fact freezing in very cold winter conditions. There is much talk of the fact that the Russian army never managed to regain their pride with any kind of military conquest at this time. I think Tolstoy felt this very much and it certainly comes across as such in his writing. The French came to Moscow and they also decided to retreat without being forced to do so although the Russians often insist that the Battle of Borodino was in fact a victory for them having inflicted a mortal wound on their opponents.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-faceted Brilliance, and mind-saturating reading., 19 Nov. 2000
By 
maydont@bigfoot.com (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
This was one of the roads on my mission to read the Worlds Top Classics - and a long road it was. However, after getting into the novel and trying not to get too intimidated by the number of characters, I was totally absorbed by the whole experience of reading such a book. The amount of work that Tolstoy put in to write this extremely detailed and great historical novel must have been incredible. The book works on many levels: as a romantic novel - following the lives of various charcters; it is also a historic account of the Napoleonic wars and of social history at that time; it has chapters filled with the "science" of war; Tolstoy also includes his views and the philosophies of life and history: therefore it can be read on many, and every level. I was totally spellbound reading about aspects such as the communication problems there were during this time and the different values of the people.
The book deals with many issues, including leadership which has inspired people such as Nelson Mandela (who read it while in prison). The book's chapters are also very short (sometimes 2 pages) - therefore you are also able to read the book in short doses: which I did (it took me nine months to complete the work).
However, like a small sponge in a large puddle of water, I was unable to absorb everything that this novel had to offer, and I can certainly see myself returning to re-read this book in few years.
Make yourself read this - it's worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic must-read in one of the best translations available, 20 Dec. 2012
I had already read War and Peace some ten years ago as a print book so the content was not unfamiliar to me, but I had not read the Maude translation, which makes a big difference. The Maudes capture the spirit and manage to transmit it to us even today. The book is extremely long as we all know, but reading it on Kindle makes it easier and this ebook is well formatted and worth every cent: War and Peace (Maude translation)
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A word about this edition, 22 Jan. 2009
By 
Dan Coin (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A word of warning: while this collector's edition appears to be decent quality, with hard binding, gold-edged paper and so on, the editing of the book itself is atrocious. There are multiple typing errors in the text and worst of all there are actually some chunks of text missing. It is obvious that very little effort was put into editing the volumes, as even a cursory read through them would have made these errors obvious.

The text size is so-so and the paper, at least in the copy I received, stuck together quite badly. The cheap price is indicative of the overall quality of this edition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it, it's worthwhile...., 23 Jan. 2002
...I read it whilst travelling around Russia and it's a fantastic way to familiarise yourself with an important part of Russian history whilst becoming enchanted by the characters portrayed in the book. It is not as deep and psychological as Dostoevsky but covers moral and mental issues with much greater accessibility. Most importantly his talent for describing emotions and situations mean that by the middle of the book you truly feel you personally know how the characters will react to a range of potential situations.
It'll take time but read it. It's worth it.
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